Plant Disease and Insect Clinic
How to Submit a Sample
This page gives an overview of sample submission forms, fees, and shipping. It also gives instructions for collecting and packaging your sample.
If necessary, the agent or gardener can help you properly collect and submit a sample to the PDIC. After the diagnosis, they can recommend control methods that are suitable to your location and situation.
Click a link below to quickly navigate to information available on this page for submitting a sample:
All samples must include a sample form filled out with the required information. The sample form provides us with information that is vital for correctly identifying your plant problem.
We strongly encourage you to create a user account and submit your sample information electronically (option 1). Alternatively, you can submit sample information on a printed sample form (option 2).
If you are a new user and this is your first time submitting a sample, click the New Users button at the top of the page to get detailed instructions about how to create a user account and fill out an electronic sample form.
Option 1: Fill out an electronic sample form & send a copy with your sample
- All samples can be entered into the database electronically. This saves clinician time and results in a faster diagnosis. Be sure to fill out the form completely and include all required sample information. Print the 'Sample Results' page to send with your sample.
- First time database user instructions - click on the "New Users" button at the top of the page for detailed instructions
- NC Cooperative Extension Service and NCSU Campus users can log in using a Unity ID.
- Guest users should create an account by clicking "Guest Login" from the drop down menu on the Unity login page. Follow the instructions.
Option 2: Print out the form, fill it in, and send with sample
Get free Adobe Acrobat Reader to download pdf files on this page.
Option 3: Submit a digital image
Digital image samples must be submitted with the electronic sample submission form. DO NOT SEND IMAGES BY EMAIL!
- Digital image samples are currently free of charge.
- Physical samples sent as follow-ups are billed at the normal rates.
- Be sure to fill in all the required information. We can't give you a good diagnosis or ID if you don't give us good information.
- Check your image for detail and focus after uploading
- Digital images must be in JPG format.
(Samples with incomplete information will not be processed.)
- Fill out the form giving all the information requested.
- In the electronic submission form, required information is indicated by a green dot.
- Be sure to CHECK OFF the SYMPTOMS, DISTRIBUTION and PARTS AFFECTED and complete the LOCATION section.
- Complete ALL sections of the front of the form if you are submitting an insect for identification.
IMPORTANT: Fee Schedule (effective APRIL 15, 2010)
|PDIC Fees FAQs||Billing FAQs for CES and State Agencies||Billing FAQs for Commercial Clients|
Make check payable to NCSU and include with the sample. Please put "PDIC fee" on the memo line.
- $20: In-state samples submitted by Coopertive Extension Service (including Master Gardeners), NCDA&CS Regional Agronomists, and other State of North Carolina and non-profit agencies, with on-line submission of sample information
- $30: In-state samples submitted directly to the PDIC by the public and all samples submitted without information filled out on-line
- $75: Out-of-state samples
- See our Fee Schedule for detailed information and for other sample types
NOTE: WEED Identification Samples and samples where sudden oak death (SOD or Ramorum blight) are suspected should not be sent to the clinic. For your convenience, links are provided below for more information, forms, and addresses for those kinds of samples. There is no charge for SOD and Weed ID samples.
- Crop and turf weed identification and control recommendations form
- Plant Identification eCenter
- Sudden Oak Death information
- Do not allow specimens to dry out or get too hot.
- Send specimens as soon as possible after collecting. Refrigerate any specimens that cannot be shipped immediately.
- Enclose the completed sample form and payment with the sample. Place them in a plastic bag to protect them from moisture and soil.
- Samples that might break down quickly should be shipped by an express mail service.
- We do not receive deliveries on weekends or holidays. To ensure timely delivery, send samples early in the week. We accept walk-in and hand-delivered samples from 8:30 to 4:30 on weekdays.
The clinic remains open during NCSU student breaks, but is closed for major holidays.
Address for US Postal Service, UPS & FedEx:
State Courier Address:
Small Plants from Fields, Landscapes or Gardens
- DIG UP (do not pull) several COMPLETE plants leaving ROOTS AND SOIL INTACT.
- Enclose the roots and soil (approximately one quart) in a plastic bag and secure the bag.
- Place the entire plant in another plastic bag and secure.
- It is IMPORTANT to keep soil off the foliage.
(Azalea, Boxwood, Holly, Camellia, Rhododendron, trees of all types, miscellaneous landscape shrubs, vines, etc.)
- Collect a generous double handful of feeder roots and one quart of soil from representative plants that have moderate symptoms. DO NOT send plants which have been dead for months.
- Place ROOTS and SOIL TOGETHER in a plastic bag and close securely.
- Place several branches which are showing decline in a SEPARATE PLASTIC BAG and secure.
- For smaller plants, submit an entire plant. Cover the roots and soil with a plastic bag. Place the entire plant in another plastic bag and secure.
- Be sure there is no water on the foliage surfaces -- this causes deterioration during shipping.
- Canker, Dieback or Swellings on Trees or Shrubs -- Cut the branch several inches beyond each end of affected area, including some live wood. Place specimen in a plastic bag and secure the bag.
- Leave plants in pots whenever possible. Plant foliage should be dry and planting medium should be slightly moist but not soggy.
- Enclose the pot in a plastic bag and secure the bag at the main stem of the plant.
- Wrap foliage in newspaper and pull bag up around paper and tie it off.
- It is IMPORTANT to keep soil off the foliage.
- Bedding plants can be left in their containers but pack newspaper or other padding around them before wrapping in newspaper.
IMPORTANT: OUT OF STATE SAMPLES MUST BE DOUBLE BAGGED AND SEALED. SAMPLES THAT ARE NOT PROPERLY PACKAGED WILL BE DESTROYED UPON RECEIPT.
Fleshy vegetables, fruits
- Do not place produce in plastic bags!!!
- Collect several specimens.
- Wrap each in several layers of newspaper.
- Package in a box to prevent crushing.
Note: due to the unexpected passing of mycologist Dr. Larry Grand, the clinic is not accepting mushroom samples at this time.
Indoor (household) mold samples
- The preferred method for submitting household mold samples is on cotton swabs.
- For each affected area, take a new cotton swab and rub gently across the moldy/stained surface.
- Label a sealable plastic bag with the location (e.g. “windowsill in back bedroom”, “floor joist in crawlspace”) and place the swab inside. Place only one swab in each bag.
- It’s helpful to get a piece of the material (wood, sheetrock, fabric) on which the mold was growing, when this is practical. For wood, a chisel can be used to remove a piece about 1/8" to 1/4" thick and a few inches long.
- Online data entry for mold ID samples is basically the same as for other kinds of samples. Use the following options: Host site type=“Household”; Host=“Household; Domestic Dwellings; Habitat”; Problem type=“Other”.
- Explain the situation completely in the Comments section, including a list of the individual sites for which swabs are being submitted.
- Samples from up to five separate areas within the building may be submitted with each sample number (form).
Greenhouse air sampling for ethylene
- Please contact us at 919-515-3619 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a set of vials and instructions for air sampling for ethylene concentrations.
- You can also download the ethylene sampling form and instructions, which include the current fee structure.
- General information about ethylene problems in greenhouses is found in Horticulture Information Leaflet 530.
- Testing for Phytophthora in irrigation water -- Call 919-515-3619 for special instructions for this test.
Most insects - cockroaches, termites, bugs, beetles, flies, wasps, ants, maggots, spiders, etc. should be sent in ≥ 70% alcohol.
Mites, scales, aphids and thrips - send in alive on some of the affected foliage/stems, collected as you would a plant specimen. Place in a plastic bag when collected.
Butterflies and moths - send in killed (ethyl acetate is good, but can be killed in the freezer), packaged lightly in tissue paper in a crush-proof box.
Caterpillars - send in alive on some of the host plant in a plastic bag.
Grubs - send in alive in a pint or two of soil enclosed in a plastic bag.
When in doubt, put specimens in ≥ 70% alcohol and collect several specimens if possible.
INADEQUATE SAMPLES CANNOT BE DIAGNOSED!
IMPORTANT: WE DO NOT ACCEPT LIVE INSECT SPECIMENS FROM OUT OF STATE!
IMPORTANT: FOR SAMPLES ASSOCIATED WITH HUMAN AND ANIMAL HEALTH PLEASE REFER TO THIS DOCUMENT [PDF] BEFORE SUBMITTING!
Last update: 21-Mar-2013 by M.J. Munster